TFAH Issues 2022 Ready or Not Report on Public Health Emergency Preparedness

The Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) this week released its annual report entitled, “Ready or Not 2022: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism,” evaluating states’ performance on 10 key emergency preparedness indicators and identifying gaps in states’ readiness to respond to emergencies. The report calls for urgent investment to create a public health system to protect all Americans’ health during emergencies.

The report tiers states and the District of Columbia into three performance levels: high, middle, and low, placing 17 states in the high-performance tier, 20 states in the middle-performance tier, and 13 states in the low-performance tier based on their 2021 performance. Notably, California was ranked in the middle-performance tier.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • A majority of states had plans in place to expand health care and public health laboratory capabilities in an emergency
  • Most states are accredited in the areas of public health, emergency management, or both
  • A large majority of Americans who receive their household water through a community water system had access to safe water
  • Only about half of the U.S. population is served by a comprehensive local public health system
  • Seasonal flu vaccination rates have risen significantly in recent years but are still lower than the goal set by Healthy People 2030
  • Just over half of workers used some kind of paid time off in a one-month sample; the need for paid time off has become particularly apparent during the pandemic, as many workers became ill or needed to care for a sick family member
  • Only 28 percent of hospitals, on average, earned a top-quality patient safety grade during the year, down from 31 percent the year prior.

TFAH, in its report, notes that while critical progress was made in fighting COVID-19 during 2021, the pandemic continued to illuminate the ways in which health inequities put communities of color and low-income communities at heightened risk for worse health outcomes during an emergency.

TFAH sets forth the following policy recommendations:

  • Congress and states should provide stable, flexible, and sufficient funding for public health, including infrastructure, data systems, and the public health workforce
  • Congress should create a COVID-19 Commission to review and address gaps in the pandemic response, and leaders at all levels of government should reject attempts to weaken public health authorities
  • Policymakers should take steps to prevent disease outbreaks by investing in vaccination infrastructure, antibiotic resistance programs, and by providing paid leave for all workers
  • Congress should create programs to help build resilient communities by investing in health equity and the social determinants of health, including anti-poverty programs and programs that build financial security for families
  • Congress should invest in the development and distribution of medical countermeasures to enable rapid development and effective deployment of life-saving products during emergencies and federal and state policymakers and health systems should work together to prioritize effective coordination and communication during emergencies
  • The White House, Congress, and states should develop plans and provide funding to maximize the health impacts of climate change and do so in ways that address health equity

The full TFAH report is available here.